FSU football: 5 questions with Syracuse Orange experts

FSU football will take on the Syracuse Orange in an important home game Saturday afternoon. Here’s five questions about Syracuse Orange football.

FSU football has been established in the FanSided network for a while now with our coverage of the Noles.

We’re lucky to have a FanSided site dedicated to covering Syracuse sports called Insidetheloudhouse.com. I sat down with Syracuse expert Paul Esden Jr. to discuss Saturday’s ACC Atlantic matchup.

The questions and answers are transcribed below:

Syracuse has already lost more games this year than they did all of last year. What’s been biggest difference compared to last year?

The offensive line. Syracuse lost three starters from last year’s squad (Koda Martin, Cody Conway, and Aaron Roberts), but everyone assumed they’d be able to fill the voids with no problem and that hasn’t happened. On top of losing guys to the NFL/graduation, they’ve also been bitten by the injury bug. Starting center Sam Heckel got hurt Week 1 and hasn’t been back since. That one little injury has caused the rest of the offensive line to play musical chairs.

The offense seems to have regressed a lot looking at advanced metrics. Was this expected and what have been the biggest reasons for it?

Advanced metrics, normal metrics, quite frankly every known metric they’ve regressed. Any rational Syracuse fan knew that inherently there’d be some sort of regression coming off of a 10-3 campaign, but no one expected this. The aforementioned offensive line issues have stopped the Orange is the New Fast in its tracks. The Orange can maintain a running game, despite having multiple talented running backs, due to the offensive line’s inability to open up lanes. This has forced Syracuse to become one-dimensional offensively and that’s bad news for Tommy DeVito. The offensive line is struggling from a talent perspective but even worse from a communication perspective and the team has had no chance.

Defensively the Orange defensive line destroyed the FSU offensive line last year. Do you expect that to happen again this year? What’s the overall strength of the defense as it seems they have taken a step back from last year too?

The one-piece that really helped last year that not enough people talked about was the impact of defensive tackle Chris Slayton. He was the silent killer in the middle of the defense and constantly ate up double and triple teams to open up opportunities for the guys you know a lot more about.

Chris was taken by the New York Giants in the 2019 NFL Draft and no one has filled that void. Alton Robinson and Kendall Coleman have been very good despite the sack numbers not being as impressive as they were last year. They haven’t had that dominant game yet, but this game against the Seminoles could be their coming out party. The strength is definitely the defensive line
this year for the Orange, the new guys in the middle are KJ Ruff and Josh Black.

Who would be some players Syracuse players FSU fans should be aware of and how do you expect them to affect the game?

Trishton Jackson wasn’t involved in this game last year due to the transfer rules, but he’s the No. 1 wide receiver for the Orange. He does so many things well coming over from Michigan State. He’s been the team MVP so far for Syracuse and can make things happen with YAC (yards after catch/contact) and also has an ability to hit the deep ball. Let me give you one on defense that also wasn’t really a factor in last year’s matchup: linebacker Lakiem Williams. He’s a JUCO transfer in his last year with the Orange, last season he was just getting used to his new surroundings and was mainly a special teams guy. Now he’s the team leader in tackles and brings an infectious energy to the rest of his teammates. Lakiem can track the ball and lay the lumber when necessary.

Syracuse opened as +10.5 betting underdogs. Do you agree with that line and what’s your prediction for the game?

This is the largest spread Syracuse has faced since the Week 3 matchup vs the Clemson Tigers. It’s hard to argue with the spread, Syracuse has shown no signs of life all season. The Orange got the benefit of the doubt throughout much of the season thus far as it pertains to betting odds because of the team they were in 2018, but that goodwill has run out. Until Syracuse proves otherwise, they deserve to be an underdog. Sadly my optimism has expired, I won’t predict something I haven’t seen yet this season. Give me FSU 28-11, Syracuse hasn’t been able to move the ball consistently.

There you have it ladies and gentlemen. You can read my answers to their questions here.